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The Power of Environment on your Healing Journey

Moving from my NYC apartment to a ranch in the countryside of Brazil, there was no doubt my health would change. I had a feeling that moving to another country would have a positive impact on my health. But, I mostly thought it would be contributed to the quality of food.


Except, I don’t think I realized the extent changing my environment would have on my gut health. Out of all of the diet changes and supplements I have incorporated during my gut healing journey, nothing has even come close than when I moved out of New York City.

It's More Than your Diet


When I started my holistic gut health journey a year ago, I made healthy lifestyle changes alongside diet changes. I knew diet alone couldn't heal my gut. So, I prioritized my sleep, managed my stress through breath work and meditation, and was very active.


Even through these lifestyle changes, there was never one habit that dramatically changed my gut health journey. I think up until this point, meditation and breath work had the most positive impact. But nonetheless, I continued to struggle with my stress levels despite these practices.


It wasn't until I moved that I realized being in a fast-paced, high-stressed city like New York, was contributing to my health issues. Even when there were moments where I could do things to positively impact my health, like take a walk around the block, the environment I was in stimulated chaos.


The traffic, bright lights and busy sidewalks didn’t allow me to tap into that next stage of healing. It was a city that thrived off of non-stop energy. Being engulfed in that, I was naturally inclined to be "always-on".


It wasn't until I stepped outside of New York City where I noticed how unsustainable the culture was. Stress and burnout were ingrained in the hustle. The culture induced living off of bagels and coffee and working all day then staying out all night then waking up and doing it all again. You almost had to do it all, or else you felt like you weren't taking advantage of your life there. And quite honestly, I didn't need to be that woman.


I just needed to rest.


Too Many Expectations


New York City was a post-college destination for me. Going to school on Long Island, it was the natural, next move for a lot of my friend groups. At the time, I was so appreciative of it. Those first two years out of college and in the real world exceeded my expectations, and to have all of my friends by my side made the journey even better.


But the expectations of living in a fun city with your friends, especially New York City, enabled constant connectivity to a point of dysfunction. You almost felt like if you weren’t constantly doing "fun city things” like rooftop happy hours, dining out, staying out until 4am partying, exploring, etc., you were missing out.


Those expectations can be exhausting. Especially for someone like me who was prioritizing her health. There was an underlying pressure that I had to keep up with the environment I was in, even if it wasn’t beneficial for my well-being.


And while there was no one externally putting that pressure on me, just being in an expecting city that thrives off that high energy, it was not conducive to the stage of healing that I was in.


The Dichotomy of Living


I don’t think I realized how stressed I actually was living in the city. Almost two months after I moved out, I noticed just how far I’ve actually come towards healing my body. And I haven’t changed my diet or my supplements at all! In fact, I’ve started to remove some supplements and have incorporated dairy and gluten again.


Looking back, the times I thought I was relaxed back at home were mostly an illusion. Sure I had habits that would calm my nervous system. I would take my weekly yoga class, do circadian walks by the water, and read before bed at night.


These therapeutic moments made me feel in control of my stress levels, but not to the extent that I am now. And some of my habits haven't changed at all! I still do yoga here, take circadian walks, and read before I sleep.


So what is so different about my lifestyle now?


It boils down to one thing: The environment.




For instance, my favorite way to destress when work or life feels too overwhelming, is going on a brief walk. The difference is in New York my walk would be stepping over piles of trash with ambulances blaring by, and the overhang of pollution in the air of the concrete jungle. Whereas in Brazil, I step outside, barefoot on the grass, feeling the sun and breeze on my skin and hear the rustling of the leaves and birds.


Both are a walk; however, the environment of one is going to naturally induce more stress than the other.


Don’t get me wrong, there are moments I really really miss being in the city. I crave the convenience, the energy, and the community. But when I take a look at how far my health journey has come once I removed myself from that environment, I don't regret moving at all.


I needed to step into a place that encouraged my body to return to equilibrium. I've been living in chronic stress for too long. The stressful environment and expectations of others were preventing the ultimate next step in healing. I had to step back into nature - like literally be barefoot and ground in the grass everyday - and incorporate habits where I don’t feel the external pressure to negate my health.


I feel beyond grateful that Brazil has allowed me to tap into this identity. One of healing, and without any external obligations. It’s been extraordinary to experience this type of relief.


But I also know it’s not realistic. And honestly, I can't be here forever, either.


So for the next two months, I need to find a way that brings this type of serenity into the next stage of life. It needs to feel natural and sustainable, allowing me to progress on my healing journey without being fully disconnected from the world. 🤍🌿


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Welcome! If you made it here, you are probably looking for answers on where to begin your wellness journey. I'm Jessica, and I started my gut health journey over 3 years ago. As an avid foodie and wellness enthusiast, I hope to inspire you on your realistic wellness journey.

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